The extensive survey was designed to get a precise picture of the economic difficulties, losses and other negative effects the Serbian audiovisual industry and professionals are facing due to the COVID-19 virus pandemics and the accompanying restrictions and alterations.
A total of 130 companies, including 25 members of the SFA, participated in the survey. The principal goal was to get a clear picture of the situation in order to pinpoint the directions of adequate help and support needed in the immediate future. The answers in the survey reflect the opinions in 53% of companies and in 47% of entrepreneurs, most of whom belong to production design and production staff. The survey also included 40 production houses, 12 distributors and 8 exhibitors.
Solely during the three weeks of March 2020, the estimated losses amounted to 9.7 million EUR, 4.9 of which was associated with screening and distribution houses in Serbia. Greater losses are likely to be encountered for the period from April to June, since 60% of the firms said they expected to have little or no revenues, while 27% still expect to function with revenues exceeding 50%. Only 4% say they are experiencing no revenue loss. This holds true mainly in the case of companies dealing with postproduction and VFX effects.
The greatest challenge the participants face (44%) is paying salaries, taxes and contributions, as well as organising new methods to continue functioning, and dealing with the implementation of the prescribed social and physical distancing. The second challenge (17%) is the payment for jobs and services already completed. In the third spot, 15% named the organisation of work under the new circumstances as the major obstacle. Only 3% reported having the greatest difficulties with paying off their credits or loans.
To date, no measures have been introduced for individual sectors in Serbia. However, on 31 March 2020 the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Serbia presented a set of general measures to mitigate the crisis caused by COVID-19 in the total amount of EUR 5.1 billion. The measures refer to the area of fiscal policy, maintaining the liquidity of the economy and direct support to companies.
The fiscal policy measures are: the postponement of payment of taxes and social security contributions for the private sector during the state of emergency (the payment will begin in 2021); the deferral of payment of corporate income tax in advance in the second quarter of 2020; the exemption of donors from paying the VAT. Measures dedicated for the private sector, which includes all freelancers, micro, small and medium entities, should cover minimum wage payments. Assistance for large legal entities would cover 50% of the net minimum wage for employees who have been dismissed.